180 kilometers from the border with NATO, Russia has deployed at least 7 strategic bombers. The bombers, capable of carrying cruise missiles and strategic nuclear weapons, have been active in the Ukrainian war
Israeli intelligence officers discovered the “unusual presence” of Russian bombers near the Finnish border, the Jerusalem Post writes . Satellite imagery from ImageSat International suggests that Russian TU-160 and TU-95 strategic bombers are based at Oleni Air Base not far from the Finnish border.
Against the backdrop of NATO’s threatening behavior, six Russian strategic bombers capable of carrying both conventional missile and bomb weapons and nuclear weapons were spotted at the Olenya military airbase on the Kola Peninsula. The appearance of seven long-range bombers here at once, just 180 kilometers from the border with NATO, is a serious reminder to the North Atlantic Alliance that Russia does not intend to reckon with any threats to its sovereignty.
Strategic nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction, delivering hits equivalent to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So it is not about the so-called tactical nukes that are used to deliver limited dispersion strikes. These are simply weapons of mass destruction.
According to satellite images obtained by the company, four TU-160s were spotted on 21 August and three TU-95s were spotted on 25 September. There were no “strategic bombers” at the air base on August 12.
“Through ongoing Patterns-of-Life, the system indicates that Engels Air Force Base is the likely departure point of strategic bombers detected at Olenya Air Force Base,” the report states. Engels Air Base is home to Russia’s only strategic bombers stationed near Ukraine and is home to the 121st Heavy Bomber Air Regiment (121 TBAP) which flies the TU-160s and TU-95s.
The bombers, capable of carrying cruise missiles and strategic nuclear weapons, have been active in the Ukraine war since Moscow invaded in February. Throughout the war against Ukraine, the Russian Air Force was unable to gain air superiority and lost many aircraft. According to The Drive, the regiment was awarded the honorary title of “Furray” – a prestigious title for Russian military units – for “massive heroism displayed by the regiment’s personnel in combat operations”.
While it is not clear why the bombers were moved to the air base, the development comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to threaten the West that he could use strategic nuclear weapons, even after announcing a partial deployment in the country, saying that nuclear Russia’s threat “is not a bluff.”
Olenya Air Base is located on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk. It houses Russia’s Northern Fleet and a significant amount of weapons and military equipment, including tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.
According to figures released as part of the New START arms reduction treaty between Moscow and Washington, Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads for its strategic forces.
The airbase is also a major Russian airbase with a massive strike capability that would send a signal to the United States and NATO. The base is also out of range of Ukrainian weapons that have struck Russian air bases with weapons delivered by Washington and other European nations.
Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Vadim Skibytskyi told the Guardian in an interview on Tuesday that Kyiv assesses the threat of Moscow routinely using nuclear weapons against the country as “very high”.
According to Skibitsky, tactical nuclear strikes would likely target locations along the front lines where there are large numbers of people, and equipment, as well as command centers and critical infrastructure.
As we understand, the investigation of the Israeli intelligence agency is well-documented and is one of the rare times that this agency intervenes in contrast to its American counterpart.